Date Archives: January 2021

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January
27

Mortgage and refinance rates Today

Average mortgage rates edged higher yesterday. It was only a small increase. And rates remain in uberlow territory. But it ended an eight-working-day run without rises.

So far this morning, mortgage rates look likely to edge lower. But that could change, especially as there's an important announcement from the Federal Reserve this afternoon.

Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Might you benefit by continuing to float your mortgage rate? You bet. But it's no longer the near-certainty it once was. Indeed, there's a pile of uncertainty in the market that actually sets these rates.

And mortgage rates are now very close indeed to their all-time low. So, for the cautious, locking has to be an attractive option.

And my personal rate lock recommendations, which are little better than hunches, are:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

Still, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates 

Here's a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time yesterday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys fell to 1.00% from 1.04%. (Good for mortgage rates) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were lower on opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices fell to $52.16 from $52.98 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices dropped to $1,832 from $1,855 an ounce. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) In general, it's better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — Tumbled to 43 from 66 out of 100. Good for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates today look likely to fall today.

Find and lock a low rate (Jan 27th, 2021)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed's ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can't work miracles all the time. And read "For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here's why" if you want to understand this aspect of what's happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances are higher following a regulatory change

So there's a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what's going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Today and soon

I'm expecting mortgage rates to nudge lower today. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses.

And that warning is especially true today. Because a key Federal Reserve policy committee will be making an announcement this afternoon.

The Federal Open Market Committee is exceedingly unlikely to adjust Fed interest rates. But it will be publishing reports and forecasts that are very influential among investors.

For more background on my wider analysis, read our latest weekend edition, which is published every Saturday soon after 10 a.m. (ET).

Recently

Over the last several months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions last year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent such record occurred on Jan. 7, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. But rates have risen since. And in Freddie's Jan 21 report, that weekly average was 2.77%. However, even more recent falls mean these rates start out this morning very close to that Jan. 7 record.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rates forecasts for each quarter of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21, Q3/21 and Q4/21).

Fannie's were released on Jan. 15, Freddie's on Jan. 14 and the MBA's on Jan. 20. The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

But, given so many unknowables, the current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual. And there's certainly a widening spread as the year progresses.

Find your lowest rate today

Some lenders have been spooked by the pandemic. And they're restricting their offerings to just the most vanilla-flavored mortgages and refinances.

But others remain brave. And you can still probably find the cash-out refinance, investment mortgage or jumbo loan you want. You just have to shop around more widely.

But, of course, you should be comparison shopping widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

January
25

The Best Places to Watch the Super Bowl

Super Bowl Viewing: Denver

Denver

Peyton Manning and the Broncos have clawed and fought their way to Super Bowl 50, and many of their fans will be cheering them on at home. Before you stuff yourself with wings and beer, head to Washington Park for the Super Bowl 5K or Silly Hearts Yoga's Super Bowl Yoga Party. Then, get ready to watch: kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time. Locals bars with big screens hosting can't-miss parties include Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, the Rhino Yacht Club, the Oriental Theater, and The Soiled Dove. Denver's breweries and beer halls are also getting in the action: check out the Super Bowl specials at Diebolt Brewing Company and new watering hole Rhein Haus. Then, there are the classic spots for cheering on the Broncos: Highland Tap & BurgerOccidental Bar, the Sports Column, and, of course, Elway's, the signature restaurant of iconic Broncos quarterback John Elway. —Megan Barber

Charlotte

With its home team bound for Super Bowl 50, Charlotte is set to celebrate. The opposing Broncos' hometown of Denver may have an established reputation as a craft beer hub, but North Carolina's beers are bubbling up fast on the national scene. On Sunday afternoon, head to Unknown BrewingOlde Mecklenburg Brewery, or D9 Brewing Co., to sample their suds and check out their party specials. During every Panthers game, neighboring South End bars All American Pub, the Oak Room, and Slate create one of the biggest parties in town at their shared outdoor garden. Want to try a Super Bowl ring on for size? The Charlotte City Club is hosting the fifth annual NFL Players Association Former Players Charlotte Chapter Super Bowl party. The name is long, but the concept is simple: Watch the Super Bowl with 20 to 30 former and current NFL players. —Sarah Crosland

San Francisco

While the Super Bowl itself will be going down at the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, 43 miles south of San Francisco, the city is the place to be. Leading up to the game, Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero will transform into Super Bowl City, showcasing NFL-themed events in the mini-metropolis. Michael Mina's popular French-inspired restaurant, RN74, is the official NFL restaurant this year, hosting an "On the Fifty" event every day leading up to Game Day, with autographed memorabilia, NFL player appearances, and more. Players can also be spotted at the NFL Experience, taking over SoMa's Moscone Center from January 30 on, offering interactive games and an exhibit exploring the history of the Super Bowl. Andrew Zimmern hosts the NFL's Party With a Purpose event on Saturday, Feb. 6, where chefs representing the NFL's 32 cities dish out inventive spins on football fare. On Sunday, plenty of classic bars and pubs in the city have specials and events for excited fans. —Jenna Scatena

Dallas

Arguably one of the biggest football states in the country, it's no surprise Texas has a few surprises up its sleeves come to Super Bowl Sunday. In Dallas, you'll find parties at the Owner's Box, an upscale sports bar located in the Omni Hotel, with a 16-foot screen and 70 surrounding TVs, as well as brisket potato skins and Texas chili. Frankie's won't charge a cover for its party, and drink specials include $2 mimosas, $3 tequila sunrises, $18 beer buckets, and a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. It's $100 to enter the Nodding Donkey's party, but that gets you all-you-can-eat lunch, appetizers, and dinner, as well as an open bar all day long. At The Rustic, your $13 ticket fee includes all-you-can-eat wings, and at the Katy Trail Ice House, expect a more laid-back vibe, with people bringing their pets to hang out while they play cornhole and watch the game. —Kimberly Wilson

Miami

Watch the Super Bowl in an only-in-Miami fashion: from a poolside cabana at one of the area's posh hotels, which have built-in TVs and are ideal for groups. Both The Fontainebleau and The Delano have special game-day packages that include butler service, drinks, and food specials. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino may not have cabana parties, but it's pulling out all the stops for its celebration. Shula's Hotel & Golf ClubMandarin Oriental, and restaurant Local Craft Food & Drink all are welcoming groups with special menus and more. —Tom Austin

New York City

It's no secret the city is rife with bars ready for game-day viewing, but Prospect Height's Woodwork, Astoria's BreweryGeorge Keeley on the Upper West Side, Banter in Williamsburg, and the Bronx Alehouse all have great food, plenty of drinks, and ample TVs. Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg is offering table service, regional beers, and hot wings while the Puppy Bowl plays in the lobby. The Carnegie Club hosts a more sophisticated spread, and the Standard Biergarten gives groups ping-pong tables, pretzels, sausages, sauerkraut—and beer. —Molly McArdle

Washington, DC

Every sports bar in the city is going to be screening the game, but the question is which one should you choose? Capitol Hill hot spot Barrel is throwing a major game-watch party with open bar, burgers, peri-peri wings, chili, potato skins, meatballs, and pimento cheese. Jack Rose Dining Saloon hosts its Super Beer-B-Q Bowl again this year, an epic battle among barbecue styles and breweries. The Penn Quarter Sports Tavern may be home to Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks fans, but everyone is welcome. For the game, they'll be offering pitches of Miller Lite for $12, pitchers of Yuengling for $14, and pitchers of Blue Moon for $16. Also expect parties at stalwarts like Ventnor Sports Cafe in Adams Morgan, the LGBT-friendly Nellie's Sports Bar on U Street, or the massive Buffalo Billiards in Dupont Circle. —Amy McKeever

Atlanta

Atlanta is a famous town of football fans, and all across the city, its favorite watering holes and eateries are gearing up for a celebration worthy of the game's 50th anniversary. The Hudson Grille has become an institution for watching major games, and this one is no exception: expect people packing it in for the ample TV screens and for the addictive Hudson sliders and house spinach dip. Taco Mac has more than 50 TVs and 100 beers on tap and has some of the best wings in town (the owners are natives of Buffalo, New York). Stats downtown offers a slightly more polished atmosphere but is making use of its 70 screens come to Game Day with its viewing party, along with DugansRation & Dram, and the Braves All-Star Grill. Finally, Andretti Indoor Karting & Games has different party packages that let you watch and ride the karts. —Nneka M. Okona

Philadelphia

Our picks for the top Super Bowl viewing spots in the City of Brotherly Love feature something everybody can cheer for—from private lounges to heaping plates of wings. In South Philly, iconic sports bar Chickie's & Pete's all-you-can-eat Super Bowl Sunday package features a limited all-you-can-eat menu of their signature items—including their world-famous crab fries and snow crabs. Established in the late 19th-century, McGillin's is the oldest continuously operating tavern in town. If you order the SuperMug for $5, you'll get refills of Bud Light throughout the entire game for a buck a pop. The Field House, in Center City, boasts more than 350 HDTVs and 40 local craft beers on tap; their Super Bowl package includes select beer and wings. The Gaslight gastropub has created gourmet party trays and Brauhaus Schmitz beer hall is throwing a party with pork rinds, roast beef, meatballs, wings, and all you can drink beer. —Megan Ritchie Jooste

January
20

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Each year on the third Monday of January we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and reflect on the work that still needs to be done for racial equality. This January 18, make the holiday more than just a day off and take time to reflect and take action on civil rights issues across the globe.

WHEN IS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY 2021?

Martin Luther King Day is observed every year on the third Monday of January. King was an influential civil rights leader - best known for his work on racial equality and ending racial segregation in the United States. His life and achievements are remembered and celebrated on this day.

HISTORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY

The concept of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions. After King's death, US representative John Conyers and US Senator Edward Brooke introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the US House of Representatives in 1979; however, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage. Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition, as King never held public office. At the time, only two other figures had national holidays honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

Soon after, the King Center looked for support from the corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single "Happy Birthday" to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition for Congress to pass the law, and is considered the largest petition in favor of an issue in US history.

President Reagan originally opposed the holiday, citing cost concerns. But on November 2, 1983, Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall, to create a federal holiday honoring King. The bill had passed the Senate by a count of 78 to 22, and the House of Representatives by 338 to 90. The holiday was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. It's observed on the third Monday of January rather than directly on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday because it follows the guidelines of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY TRADITIONS

Martin Luther King's unparalleled contributions to racial justice for black Americans have been revolutionary. On Martin Luther King Jr. or MLK Day, schools and offices are closed, but people fully participate in remembering and honoring everything King has accomplished. His values and historical place in American history are discussed and advocated, to educate communities and coming generations on the importance of equality and King's influence. Movies and documentaries on his life are shown, and businesses and organizations run by and for the black community are shown support.

MLK DAY STATS

6,000,000 Signatures
Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a federal holiday. A petition only needs 150 signatures in order to be searchable within the White House database. To cross the second threshold and require a response, a petition must reach 100,000 signatures within 30 days. Stevie Wonder helped to achieve this feat by releasing his iconic single "Happy Birthday", raising awareness to the fact that there should be a day commemorating Dr. King's life and questioning why people in power would be opposed to celebrating someone fighting for peace and justice.

250,000 March on Washington
During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The demonstration was attended by more than 250,000 people. Though many people are familiar with the famous speech, very few know that the iconic "I have a dream" portion was entirely improvised. If you watch the video of King giving the speech, you'll notice for the first 2-3 minutes, he's reading the speech prepared for him. But at some point, King pauses. Within this pause, gospel singer and King's good friend, Mahalia Jackson, yells out, "Tell'em about the dream!" At this moment, Reverend King took his crowd to church, as he preached to a diverse crowd of supporters his dream for a better and non violent future.

25,000 March from Selma
The Selma March, also referred to as the Selma to Montgomery March, was a political march from Selma, Alabama to the state's capital, Montgomery, occurring from March 21 to the 25 in 1965. Led by Martin Luther King, Jr., the march was the culminating event of several emotional weeks during which demonstrators twice attempted to march but were stopped, once violently, by local police. 25,000 people participated in the roughly 50 mile march. These events became a landmark in the American cilvil rights movements and directly led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

HOW TO OBSERVE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY

  1. Learn MLK's full history and narrative

    Take the time to learn more about MLK in depth. Read his works as well as those of his family to learn more about this remarkable man and learn the stories as he told them. 

  2. Support the black community and racial justice

    Make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day more than just a day off. Take time to both understand and support civil rights and the issues facing communities of color. MLK and his contemporaries did a lot for the advancement of civil rights, but there is still much to be done.

  3. Have a conversation

    Creating dialogue and having discussions about racial injustice is important. Through conversation, we educate each other, share experiences, and work to create a brighter future.

    5 LESSER KNOWN FACTS ABOUT MARTIN LUTHER KING.

    1. His birth name was Michael.

      The civil rights leader was given the name Michael King Jr at birth. Later, his father changed his own name as well as of his son to Martin Luther, after the Protestant Reformation leader.

    2. King started college at the age of 15

      King skipped grades 9 and 12, and enrolled at Morehouse College in 1944.

    3. 'I Have a Dream' was not his first speech

      6 years before his iconic speech at Lincoln Memorial, King spoke during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in 1957.

    4. King was imprisoned a lot.

      According to the King Center, Martin Luther King went to jail 29 times.

    5. His last public speech foreshadowed his death

      In his last speech the night before he was assassinated, King said, "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now, I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land."

      WHY MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY IS IMPORTANT

      1. He worked to advance civil rights

        The words, leadership, time, and energy King devoted to civil rights helped end segregation in the United States and worked to eliminate unfair practices throughout the nation that negatively affect the black community. He helped organize rallies, gave speeches across the country, and mobilized thousands of people to help end racial injustice. 

      2. He inspires us

        MLK inspired millions of people in his lifetime and continues to inspire us to this day. Across the globe, activists look to King for inspiration and courage. Modern movements for racial equality and justice, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, are extensions of the work that he started.

      3. He promoted civil disobedience

        King's tactics and manner of protest were largely that of civil disobedience. This including sit ins, marches, and disregard for unjust laws. Many of us follow his example today when protesting and adopt the tactic of civil disobedience. 

January
18

One of the best podcast for all things real estate is the Bigger Pockets Podcast: Bigger Pockets Podcast

Released weekly on Thursdays, the BiggerPockets Podcast is hosted by Brandon Turner and David Greene. It features off-the-cuff interviews with investors of various backgrounds, niches, and experience levels. If you love real estate as we do, you definitely want to give it a listen. 

January
15

Nelis' Dutch Village

One of Holland's favorite attractions, Dutch Village offers an authentic Dutch experience for the whole family. A quaint, yet interactive cultural throwback to the Netherlands, Dutch Village is home to fully costumed employees dedicated to immersing the family in Dutch traditions.  Make your own Dutch "Stroopwafel" cookie, enjoy demonstrations of how the Dutch make wooden shoes, participate in traditional Dutch dancing, experience the petting zoo (De Kinderboerderij), taste Dutch Brews and local beers, and even enjoy the Ferris Wheel in its small theme park!

January
13

Mortgage and refinance rates today, January 12, 2021

Today's mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates held steady yesterday. And that was a pleasant surprise because they'd looked likely to rise again first thing — and also because it had been a week since they last fell. Still, by any standards, they remain very low.

However, those mortgage rates may rise today. As CNBC put it earlier, "U.S. Treasury yields continued to climb on Tuesday morning, as traders eyed the possibility of further economic stimulus and the situation with U.S. politics." And mortgage rates often shadow those yields.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Let's be honest. I can be of very little help over this right now. Because mortgage rates could go either way in the coming days, weeks and months. And, with so much currently unknowable, making predictions is a mug's game.

But I can explain what's going on. So read on to find out about the competing forces that are trying to push these rates higher and lower at the same time.

And, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations (my best guesses) are:

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates 

Here's the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time yesterday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys rose to 1.17% from 1.13%. (Bad for mortgage rates) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were mixed on opening. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices rose to $52.73 from $51.66 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices inched higher to $1,845 from $1,839 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it's better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — Climbed to 70 from 61 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates look set to move higher.

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed's ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can't work miracles all the time. And read "For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here's why" if you want to understand this aspect of what's happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances are higher following a regulatory change

So there's a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what's going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Today

I'm expecting mortgage rates to rise today.

So what are these competing forces that are trying to push mortgage rates higher and lower at the same time?

Pandemic

Well, on the one hand, is the pandemic. It's hard to overstate just how damaging this is, both to the health of the nation and to the US and global economies. Records are being set for new infections, hospitalizations and deaths almost every day. And we're just beginning to see economic reports hinting at the financial devastation its second wave is wreaking.

Normally, all rates — including those for mortgages — are low during bad economic times. And, until last week, I was confidently predicting lower mortgage rates for months to come.

More government spending

So what changed last week? Well, the Democratic Party achieved a clean sweep across the White House, the Senate and the House. And it, according to President-elect Joe Biden, plans to spend "trillions" on stimulus measures.

But such spending will mean hugely increased government borrowing. And that will inevitably significantly increase the supply of US Treasury bonds. You don't need me to remind you that increasing the supply of any product, tends to reduce its price. But, with bonds, lower prices invariably mean higher yields. Given that mortgage bonds compete with — and their rates typically shadow yields on — Treasuries, they too will experience pressure to rise.

So will the pandemic's downward pressure outweigh the added borrowing's upward pressure? Or vice versa? Literally, nobody knows.

We'll obviously be monitoring how this plays out. And, once a trend becomes clear, you'll be the first to know.

Recently

Over the last several months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions last year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent such record occurred on Jan. 7. But that had already been overtaken by events, even before it was published. And rates are now appreciably higher.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rates forecasts for each quarter of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21, Q3/21 and Q4/21).

However, note that Fannie's (released on Dec. 15) and the MBA's (Dec. 21) are updated monthly. But Freddie's are now published quarterly. And its latest was released on Oct. 14. So that's looking distinctly stale.

But these predictions were made before the Democratic Party achieved a clean sweep of both houses of Congress and the White House. And before the pandemic became even more virulent. So they may change more this month than they do normally. And, given so many current unknowables, they may be even more speculative than usual.

Find your lowest rate today

Some lenders have been spooked by the pandemic. And they're restricting their offerings to just the most vanilla-flavored mortgages and refinances.

But others remain brave. And you can still probably find the cash-out refinance, investment mortgage or jumbo loan you want. You just have to shop around more widely.

But, of course, you should be comparison shopping widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

January
8

The 10 Best Places to Go Ice Skating in the U.S.

Whether you're hitting an indoor or outdoor ice skating rink, you'll undoubtedly be taking part in one of the best winter activities. Here, we have listed the 10 best places to go ice skating in the US that will offer you beautiful outdoor landscapes and incredible backdrops for relaxation.

1. Half Dome Village, California

If you want the complete opposite scenery from the gorgeous urban landscape of New York City, Half Dome Village in Yosemite Park will take you into the luscious forest and half dome rock sculpture of ice and snow. A fire pit is there to warm yourself by, and they also offer shoes for rent should you not have your own skates.

2. Frankenmuth Rink, Michigan

Michigan is known for its access to the magnificent Great Lakes and snow that stacks feet high, so it makes sense they have fantastic ice-skating rinks. The beautiful skyline of Detroit is the backdrop to Frankenmuth Rink with glistening lights illuminating the ice, so it too glistens right back.

3. Rockefeller Center, New York

The most timeless and well-known ice skating rink that brings skaters, both amateur and professional from all over the world, is Rockefeller Center in New York City. The buildings are sky-high, the streets are lined with twinkling lights, and the 100-foot Christmas tree sets the stage for a whimsical time.

4. The Ice at Discovery Green, Texas

You probably wouldn't expect a fantastic ice-skating center to be found in the deep south where winter rarely goes below freezing, but the Ice at Discovery Green in Houston, Texas, is more than fantastic. Neon lights light the way for friends and family during the winter season.

5. Safeco Field Ice Rink, Washington

Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington, is nearly new, and it is one of the most splendorous centers in the world already. The ice rink runs in a hoop with lights, trees, and wreaths, all almost literally dripping in lights, and the fact it is in the middle of a beautiful baseball field makes it a truly unique scene.

6. McCormick Tribune Ice Rink, Illinois

In Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is one of the most popular ice centers in the country. The rink is nestled in the middle of the Windy City and overlooks the famous "bean" sculpture. If you bring your own skates, it's free entry, but they have some to rent if you need too.

7. Nestlenook Farms, New Hampshire

From sleigh rides to snowshoeing, the little town of Jackson, New Hampshire has the quaint Nestlenook Farm with the sweetest little ice skating path that runs through the forest, under bridges, and on the side of a beautiful lake.If you're looking for a quieter run that's in the middle of nowhere, but somewhere beautiful, Nestlenook Farms is the place to be.

8. The Edgewater, Wisconsin

Just as the name suggests, the ice-skating center in Madison, Wisconsin, is on the edge of the water on top of the four-star hotel for which the rink is named for; Edgewater. You'll be completely enthralled in the sky-high beauty of the city and lake while skating around the ice.

9. LeFrak Center, New York

In Brooklyn, New York, the LeFrak Center opens up in the winter season with two separate ice-skating rinks, one indoor and one outdoor. In both, you can also enjoy more activities other than just ice skating like curling, hockey, and figure skating, as well as Skate School classes.

10. MassMutual Ice Rink, Pennsylvania

In the competition for the most popular and massive urban ice-skating spot, the MassMutual Ice Rink in Pittsburgh is more than twice the size of Rockefeller. Surrounding the rink are glass buildings that reflect the lights from the huge Christmas tree onto the skaters, creating a dazzling display for both pictures and memories.

January
6

10 Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Home

Home Exterior With

Selling Secret #10: Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You'll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they'll bid up the price over what it's worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don't want to risk it, but it's the single best strategy to sell a home in today's market.

Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what's left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

Selling Secret #8: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Takedown the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do to make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Selling Secret #7: Play the agent field
A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market, and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one that has many tools to get your house sold.

Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you'd be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or a cat-lover. Buyers don't want to walk into your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you're planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

Selling Secret #5: Don't over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won't get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets, and clean the grout.

Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections, and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes first

You're not actually selling your house, you're selling your kitchen – that's how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you'll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

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